Digital connections are creating loneliness

What you need to know:

Human connections are the only means we can overcome our loneliness, feeling of isolation and seclusion

Digital technology has penetrated every part of our life. We google all our needs, meanings of words and check spelling.  When we want to eat something special we run to the internet and the same applies to travel ideas.

We google at the detriment of human connections and interaction.Human connections are the only means we can overcome our loneliness, feeling of isolation and seclusion. Many people, especially young adults, tend to believe that digital social networks can help in overcoming loneliness. But it is false.

Informed people and relationship experts believe that having constant access to technology, especially smartphones, can prevent us from making personal connections. For many people, it has become a habit to reach for a smartphone any time they have a free moment, and this behaviour has made people lonelier than before.

Perhaps we have become slaves of internet, digital technology and cypher communication. We are living at the mercy of the internet and its operations.  Certainly, the internet is a useful tool that simplifies our life but it has enslaved us to the extent that we cannot live without it.

Many people are glued to the internet for several hours a day. Certainly not all the activities that we do on the internet are productive. When our mobile phones are not working or if internet connectivity is lost many of us go into hysteria. Some years ago, during my stay in the United States of America, I witnessed a very funny incident on a train.

I was travelling between New York and Boston. It was a picturesque journey. The train moves along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, many beautiful towns and several pine forests. I sat at a window praying and reflecting.

There were only eight people in a large carriage. All sat alone immersed in thoughts and doing their own things. Something strange happened. A young lady in her mid-20s suddenly got up in front of me and looked disturbed. She was breathing hard with eyes wide open, holding a mobile phone in her hand. Showing her phone to others, she uttered distressing words, “My telephone has stopped working, can someone talk to me…” As she said these words knowingly or unknowingly she glanced at everyone and breathed hard and sat on her seat.

As I looked around, the reactions of people were interesting. One pretended as though he saw nothing, another shook his head in disgust, two others laughed and I looked in amazement.

I pitied the young woman for her addiction to the internet and mobile phone. As I felt embarrassed, I felt sorry for the embarrassment she caused herself. How can such young people be helped? How can they come out of this new kind of addiction?  And more so how can they overcome this feeling of loneliness that the internet and the related gadgets cause to them?

What is the cause of loneliness in human beings? Disconnectedness within ourselves, with disconnected people and nature. The internet creates an apparent connectivity which is false and temporary.

It can be unreliable, erratic and impersonal. Human beings are ‘connected people’. We cannot live on an island. We need to live in harmony with ourselves, others and nature that sustains us.

The disconnectedness pushes us to loneliness, emptiness, seclusion creating blankness in our mind and heart.

The Internet and its applications, especially the social media sites, filled with mesmerizing images, endless information, and suggestions for our actions and attention, captivating entertainments and ‘social’ connections keep us glued to the virtual world. This realm is impersonal, detached from normal and meaningful life, and fails to fulfil the human need for connections that is flesh and blood. They stimulate our base emotions but do not satisfy the human need for meaningful connections and relationships.

Things that human beings get addicted to are always things of passing nature, temporary, nerve-affecting and oftentimes harmful to our body, mind, heart and soul. They disintegrate our life within and outside.

When we fail to keep the created things in their right place and in right use, however useful they could be, they cause our destruction. Thus, let us use them for the purpose they are created for.

Digital technology often becomes detrimental to our actual relationships. Let us ponder on the following quotes: “Social media users, post before they think.” “Digital citizens, think before you click.” “These days, common sense is not so common on social media. People often use Internet communication as though they are alone on the World Wide Web.”

Young adults need to know that the Internet cannot replace human connections and relationships. Perhaps digital technology can only enhance and help in making our communication easier with people with whom we are already in a bonding relationship.

Fr. Lazar Arasu SDB

Priest and school administrator


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